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Food History

December 28, 2005

Love gave us a leader in time of war

The American Revolution was a magnet for adventurers and soldiers of fortune. Their motives were as varied as their personalities. The Marquis de Lafayette served because he truely believed in a free, democratic, classless society. One mercenary, Thaddeus Kosciuszko of Poland, reported to Washington with these words: &

I have come to fight; a victim of love.&

Washington assumed he loved freedom but Old Thaddeus was telling the truth. He was a victim of love.

Back in Poland, a well bred young lady named Ludvika Sosnowska had fallen in love with him. Did he return her ardor? Nobody knows, but it does not matter. Her father did not approve of him. He sent several of his retainers to beat the young nobleman almost to death. When Kosciuszko recovered, he decided that war in America was safer than peace in Poland.

He was an engineer. Washington gave him a colonel&

s commission and the young Pole spent four years constructing defensive positions for our army. Love had given us a leader and a much needed engineer. He was promoted to brigadier general. When the war was over, Congress rewarded Thaddeus Kosciuszko with $30,000 and 500 acres of land in Ohio.

Baron Johann De Kalb came because he craved martial glory and honor to conceal his plebian past. You see, he was not a baron. He was a farm boy from Huttendorf, Germany, from an ordinary peasant family. But he fell in love with Amerca and died a hero&

s death as Maj. Gen. De Kalb at the Battle of Camden.

Johann was a strappling 6-footer when he left home at 16, to fight as a mercenary in France. He was a born fighter and leader who rapidly moved up the ranks, becoming a brigadier general after only 10 years. But he knew that was the end of the road. France, like all European countries, reserved the senior commands for men of aristocratic birth. His distinguished record as a warrior could not overcome age old class prejudice. So, the farm boy paid a counterfeiter to forge him some papers and created Baron De Kalb.

De Kalb had already made one trip to America. In 1762, the French government sent him on a secret mission, dressed as a civilian, to assess the depth of anti-British sentiment in the colonies, and to estimate their potential military capability in case of war. When the revolution broke out in April 1775, he offered his sword to the rebels. He received a major general&

s commission. In March 1780, Washington sent him to command American troops in South Carolina, where Lord Cornwallis had won several victories. The British and American forces clashed at Camden, S.C., on Aug. 16, 1780.

General Gates selected his most reliable officer to hold the vulnerable right wing, with only 600 men and seven small bore artillery pieces. &

You, sir, are to have the honor of the field today,&

he said to General De Kalb.

Sword in hand, the Baron led his men into battle. He was mortally wounded. When Cornwallis saw his rank, he ordered his surgeons to treat him but it was useless. &

He has taken sabers, bullets and bayonets. Eleven big wounds altogether.&

De Kalb was a Freemason, as was Cornwallis. When the fake Baron died three days later, Lord Cornwallis arranged for him to be buried will full military and Masonic honors. He was the only Continental general given this honor.

We will have a new year soon. Let&

s toast it with Irish coffee.

Irish Coffee

8 rounded teaspoons sugar

6 cups very strong black coffee

8 jiggers Irish whiskey

8 rounded tablespoons whipped cream

Heat 8 mugs by filling with hot water. Let stand, then decant. Put spoon sugar in each mug, add coffee and stir, then add whiskey. Top with whipped cream and serve.